UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURE
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
CIRCULAR No. 242
By J. E. DOUGHERTY
FEEDING LAYING AND BREEDING HENS
A high yield of first-quality eggs is the result of (1) comfortable,
healthful quarters (2) skillful feeding, and (3) systematic culling and
breeding. No system of feeding can be made to overcome the detri-
mental effect on the egg yield of indiscriminate breeding and dirty,
crowded quarters. It may be possible to greatly increase production
for a short period by stimulation with drugs, condiments and very
concentrated feedstuffs, but the hen soon breaks down under such
treatment and her future usefulness is seriously impaired. All that
feeding can be expected to do is to supply a well-balanced diet that
will promote maximum normal production if fed, in such a way as to
stimulate healthful activity. The method of feeding is fully as im-
portant as the materials fed.
Fowls of all ages should be so fed that their appetites are never
entirely satisfied, except when they go to roost. In the case of yarded
fowls especially, grain mixtures should be fed in a deep scratching
litter to compel the birds to take sufficient exercise by scratching vigor-
ously for all they get. A skillful poultry feeder will watch his flock
carefully and make frequent observations of their physical condition.
By picking a bird up here and there, while feeding, he can note whether
the flock is in good general condition and not too fat to lay well. The
physical condition of the fowls and the eagerness with which they eat
their feed should be closely observed at all times so that feeding errors
may be corrected as early as possible and serious effects prevented.
The scratching litter should be examined daily to see that the fowls
clean up not only the grains they like best, but all the grain fed to
A very common error is that of too abundant feeding. Grain is
scattered on the bare ground where fowls can pick it up with a mini-
mum of effort. If more is fed than the fowls can clean up in a short
time, it lies on the ground and the fowls gorge themselves. Their
2 UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA EXPERIMENT STATION
crops are continually stuffed. There is no incentive to exercise and
these conditions lead to digestive troubles or even more serious com-
plications. In fact, over-feeding is the major cause of most poultry
ills. To feed skillfully takes no additional time and pays in lessened
mortality and a larger egg yield.
An example of a very good ration for laying hens is given below :
(Can be fed either moist or dry.)
Grain Mixture 25% wheat bran>
40% Whole or rolled barley. 25% wheat shorts or brown middlings.
20% Egyptian corn or milo maize. 25% ground barley, or oats, milo, etc.
20% "cracked Indian corn. 5% soybean or linseed meal.
20% whole wheat. 5% coconut or soybean or linseed or
cottonseed meal or ground beans.
15% meatscrap or fishscrap.
2J% finely granulated charcoal.
| of 1% finely sifted dairy salt.
N.B. — The proportions are by weight. Charcoal and salt are fed in addition to
the 100% mixture of feedstuff s.
Variety of Feed. — The feeding of one grain alone is not likely to
give as good results as a mixture of two grains ; and a mixture of three
or four grains is even better. It pays to feed grain mixtures and
mash mixtures containing quite a variety of feeds, if feed prices will
allow, because variety increases palatability, and palatability pro-
duces a more efficient use of the feed eaten, by stimulating a more
copious secretion of the digestive juices.
Variety in the ration also insures the fowls getting a sufficient
supply of all the different food components needed to promote health
and maximum production. Some feeds lack certain essential sub-
stances that others possess. If the ration is limited to a very few
feeds, some of these essential substances may be lacking, and the health
and production of the fowls will thereby be affected. Scurvy, e.g., is
a disease caused by the absence of essential food elements and may
result from a lack of enough variety in the diet.
Changing the Ration. — The grain and mash mixtures fed can be
changed from time to time to meet changing conditions in the avail-
able supply and the cost of grains and millfeeds, by changing the
proportions of the feeds used, adding others or making such other
changes as are indicated in the following pages. It is recommended,
however, that in order to obtain the desired variety, not less than three
grains be included in the grain ration, using not more than 50% or
less than 20% of each. If barley and oats are included in the grain
Circular 242] POULTRY FEEDING 3
mixture, not more than 50% of both together should be used because
of the amounts of fiber contained in the hulls of the two grains,
especially the oats.
Wheat is one of the most popular and extensively used cereal
grains for poultry feeding, but its inclusion in the grain ration is not
indispensable, provided the mash is well supplied with wheat mill
feeds, such as bran and shorts. This fact was thoroughly demon-
strated during the world war. Yellow corn is another very popular
cereal grain among poultry keepers and should be fed at least in small
quantity, if not too high in price. Barley, being one of the cheapest
grains that can be obtained in California and an excellent poultry
feed, should form a major part of the grain ration for laying fowls.
Sprouted Grain. — Barley and oats are the two grains most exten-
sively sprouted for feeding poultry. They are sprouted for two pur-
poses: (1) to increase their palatability, (2) to furnish green feed in
winter when other greens are difficult to secure. Barley is more gen-
erally used for the first purpose than oats because it is usually cheaper
and is eagerly eaten when sprouted until the first sprouts are about
!/4 inch long. This sprouting not only increases the succulence and
palatibility of the grain, but may also make it more digestible by
changing some of the starch into sugar. The feeding of grains
sprouted in this way has been found very beneficial in stimulating egg
production in fall and winter.
If sprouted grain having root sprouts about V4 inch long is fed, the
dry grain mixture minus such grain should be given in a scratching
litter in the morning and the sprouted grain at night. If rather
moist sprouted grains are fed in the scratch litter or on the ground,
much dirt may adhere to them and be eaten by the fowls. Feeding
in troughs will avoid this.
Grain will sprout more rapidly in a warm than in a cool place.
Hot beds, green houses, brooder house pits and warm cellars are often
used for this purpose.
A convenient method of sprouting to increase the palatability of
the. grain is to place the quantity of dry grain required for one day's
feeding in a clean, water-tight receptacle such as a tub, box, 5-gallon
linseed oil can or bucket (vessel No. 1) in the evening and cover the
grain with warm water. The next morning the soaked grain is turned
into vessel No. 2, a receptacle provided with cracks or holes in the
bottom through which all surplus water will drain away. That even-
ing another lot is put to soak in vessel No. 1. The following morning
the sprouting grain from vessel No. 2 is transferred into a similar
container (vessel No. 3), and the soaked grain in vessel No. 1 is put
4 UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA EXPERIMENT STATION
into vessel No. 2. That evening a fresh lot of dry grain is put to
soak in vessel No. 1 and the process continued each day using as many
vessels as necessary. When the first lot has developed short sprouts
it is ready to feed.
The grain is turned from one vessel into another each day to stir
it up and prevent it from heating. If the vessels used are large enough
to permit of stirring the grain, it need not be transferred to another
vessel each day after being emptied out of vessel No. 1. The recep-
tacles should be covered to keep the top layers of grain from drying
out and it may be necessary to sprinkle the grain each day with warm
water to keep it sufficiently moist in dry weather.
Oats or barley can be further sprouted to produce a tender, suc-
culent green food equal to any other tender greens as an appetizing,
health promoting, tonic food. Since it costs more, however, to sprout
grains for green food than to grow greens in the field, sprouting is
only resorted to when other green stuff is unobtainable.
The most suitable place in which to sprout grain -for greens is a
well lighted, sunny room or cabinet that can be kept at a temperature
of not less than 70° F. Sunshine is required if the sprouts are to
grow green in color, and heat and moisture are needed to stimulate
a rapid, tender and succulent growth. Sprouting in too cool a place
produces a toughening of the plant fibers which makes the green food
much less digestible, and may bring about a crop-bound condition
due to the toughness of the root strands which tend to twist up into
a matted mass in the crop instead of breaking up and digesting easily.
In order to obtain a quick and tender growth, sunlight, moisture and
warmth are essential.
The sprouting process may conveniently be carried on by taking
approximately 1 gallon of dry grain for each 400 fowls, placing it in
a suitable vessel, covering with warm water and allowing to stand
12 hours. It is then transferred to shallow trays and spread out
evenly to a depth of about one inch. Each day a fresh lot of dry
grain is put to soak and spread out on clean trays after soaking
12 hours. The trays of sprouting grain should be sprinkled with
warm water daily and until the sprouts become % inch long, they
should be thoroughly raked over twice each day. In from six to
eight days the green sprouts should attain a height of from 4 to 6
inches. The material is then ready to feed, after being torn into
small pieces a few inches square. The quantity of dry grain put to
soak each day should produce sufficient green feed for one day's feed-
ing, from six to eight days later.
Circular 242] POULTRY FEEDING 5
The trays should be about l 1 /) inches deep and have a bottom area
of 6 to 9 square feet. They can be made in any desired shape and of
either wood or metal. Wooden trays absorb moisture, may warp
badly and are much more difficult to keep clean and free from mold
than metal trays. The bottoms of wooden trays should be made with
at least four pieces of wood so that surplus water can readily drain
away through the cracks. The bottoms of metal trays should be per-
forated with holes from y 8 to % 6 of an inch in diameter. To prevent
molding- of the grain, the trays should be scraped clean before being
used again and scrubbed with a strong solution of commercial for-
maldehyde (about 10% solution).
Rice Products. — The rapid development of the rice industry in
California has created another and fairly abundant source of supply
of stock feeds in the form of rice by-products. These by-products
have proved to be very good poultry feeds if used in limited amounts
and to add variety to the diet. Since most rice feeds are starchy and
have rather a high oil content, they are fattening in character.
Ground rice feeds are apt to turn rancid if held too long, because of
the considerable amount of oil they contain. They must, therefore,
be stored and fed with care.
Brown or rough rice (with the hulls removed), rice screenings,
shrunken rice, paddy rice, etc.*, can be used as a part of the grain
mixture. The brown rice is to be preferred because the seed coat
which contains very valuable nutrient substances has not been removed
by polishing as in the case of white rice. Rice bran containing no
extra hulls and not less than 10% of crude protein or 5% of fat, and
not more than 14 % of crude fiber (guaranteed analysis), rice polish,
rice meal, etc., can be used in the mash mixture. The use of rice
products for poultry should depend largely upon their cost and they
should be fed in connection with more common poultry feeds.
Cull Beans. — Cull beans make an excellent poultry feed, but in
the whole or cracked state, most varieties are unpalatable and chickens
will not eat them. If ground to a meal, however, or cooked and
mashed, they are readily eaten, and can be included in the mash
mixture to the extent of 20% dry weight.
Mill Run vs. Bran.— Mill run may replace bran and shorts if the
latter cannot be obtained. If the mill run (also called mixed mill
feed) is largely coarse bran, 25% of gray or flour middlings can be
added to advantage to 75% of mill run, to reduce or offset the greater
bulkiness and higher fiber content of the mill run as compared with
a mixture of equal parts, by weight, of bran and shorts.
b UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA EXPERIMENT STATION
Fresh Animal Products. — Ground fresh, raw, green bone can be
used as a substitute for commercial dried meatscrap. It should be
fed at the rate of 3 pounds of green bone for each pound of meat-
scrap replaced and may be fed in a moist mash or given separately
at noon in troughs or pans. For fowls that are fed equal amounts of
grain and mash (dry weight), approximately 5 pounds of green bone
per 100 fowls per day is the right amount to feed as a substitute for
all of the meatscrap. If fresh slaughterhouse blood can be readily
obtained at an attractive price, it may be fed in a moist mash and
used to replace meatscrap in the same quantities as green bone. In
feeding fresh blood, however, it is recommended that not more than
enough to replace 50% of the meatscrap be used continuously. The
inclusion of fresh animal products in the mash makes it necessary to
feed it moist instead of as a dry mash, which entails more labor in
Sour skimmilk or buttermilk will also take the place of meatscrap
if the milk can be kept constantly before fowls in drinking pans.
They will consume as much as 30 or 40 pounds of milk per 100 head
per day. One pound of commercial dried meatscrap is equivalent to
about 15 pounds of normal skimmilk or buttermilk.
Manufactured Condensed Milk Products. — The feeding value of
manufactured, condensed buttermilk products will depend largely
upon their concentration. Their cost as compared with that of fresh
buttermilk should always be considered. If fresh buttermilk of good
quality can be obtained, it is undoubtedly a better feed at the same
cost per pound of milk solids than any of the condensed products.
The so-called tonic value of the lactic acid in buttermilk is a sub-
ject requiring more extensive investigation before any definite con-
clusions can be reached. Investigations to date have not demonstrated
that lactic acid is the principal element in milk which gives it its
disease-controlling value. On the contrary, there is every reason to
believe that the other nutrients are just as valuable as the lactic acid
in building up and maintaining the vigor of fowls and in controlling
For the purpose of stimulating a rapid, vigorous growth of young
stock, buttermilk and sour skim milk are perhaps better feeds than
meatscrap or fishscrap ; for laying hens, however, milk products have
not been found superior to these other animal feeds. When it is
considered that one pound of a good grade of meatscrap is equivalent
to nearly two gallons of buttermilk, and when the labor cost of obtain-
ing and "feeding out" the milk in good condition is also considered,
it is a question whether many poultry raisers can afford to pay even
as much for such milk products per pound of milk solids, as for com-
mercial meatscrap or fishscrap.
Buttermilk contains approximately 10% of milk solids and 90%
of water ; hence the complete evaporation of about 10 gallons of fresh
buttermilk would produce one gallon of a dry buttermilk powder. It
would, therefore, be impossible to add from 30 to 49 gallons of water
to one gallon of a condensed buttermilk product already containing
from 60% to 80% of water and obtain, as claimed, a diluted product
equal in feeding value, on the basis of milk solids, to fresh buttermilk.
None of the samples of semi-solid or condensed buttermilk products
so far analyzed by this station have contained less than 60% of water.
The following table shows how the dilution and cost per gallon
of a diluted condensed milk product approximately similar in feeding
value to fresh buttermilk may vary with the percent of moisture con-
tained in the original product on the basis of milk solids. It is
assumed that the manufactured milk product is made wholly from
milk, without the addition of mineral acid, sassafras oil, or other sub-
51c @ 6c per lb.
51c @ 6c per lb.
51c @ 6c per lb.
12y 2 e
Note. — In above calculation fresh buttermilk was considered as weighing 8.5 lbs.
Green Feed. — Fresh, green alfalfa, rape, kale, clover lawn clip-
pings, young green corn, chard, beet tops, Sudan grass, Chinese cab-
bage, young green barley, etc., should be fed plentifully to poultry of
all ages, in addition to the grain and mash mixtures. Greens should
be fed only in a fresh and tender condition, and the fowls given all
they will clean up daily. Allowing poultry to range over young,
growing forage crops is much more beneficial than cutting and feeding-
green stuff, but if the latter method must be adopted it is desirable
to cut the feed very finely in a feed cutter and feed it in a green feed
rack. (See Fig. 1.) The use of such a rack greatly lessens waste
8 UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA EXPERIMENT STATION
because it holds the fresh material together so that it remains in an
unwilted and succulent condition for a much longer time than it
would if it were thrown on the ground and scattered about by .the
hens. Enough green stuff should be put in the rack in the morning,
immediately after feeding the grain, to last till noon and then only
as much more added as the fowls will clean up by 4 p.m.
Fig. 1. — Green feed hopper used at the University Farm, Davis.
If green stuff must be fed on the ground, cutting it up very finely
and feeding it two or three times a day in small amounts will prove
least wasteful and produce better results because more will be eaten
than if only one large feeding once a day is given. This is especially
true in dry weather when green stuff dries rapidly after being cut.
Fowls will not eat wilted, dried-out greens. Neither will they con-
sume as high a percentage of unchopped as of finely chopped greens,
especially of the stems and more fibrous parts of such crops as alfalfa,
green barley, young green corn, and Sudan grass.
Circular 242] POULTRY FEEDING 9
Grit.— Foultry do not have teeth with which to tear and grind the
food eaten, before it leaves the month. Except for green herbage,
vegetables, fresh meat, etc., which can be torn or broken with the
strong, horny beak, into pieces small enough to be swallowed, the food
must pass from the month into the crop just as it is picked np.
As the food passes through the crop and second stomach (proven-
tri cuius) it is softened and acted upon by the digestive juices, but the
actual grinding is not done until the food reaches the gizzard. The
gizzard is a powerful grinding organ with a tough, convoluted lining
which grinds the softened and partly digested food to a very fine state
by means of the abrasive action of small pieces of stone or grit. The
fowls pick up and eat this grit as they need it and it passes with the
food into the gizzard where it is held until worn to minute fragments.
An insufficient supply of grit to properly grind the food in the giz-
zard is detrimental to the health of poultry.
The kind of stone used as poultry grit does not seem to be im-
portant. A hard, granite grit little affected by the digestive fluids
lasts longer than a limestone grit, however, and a sharp grit is
believed to grind the food more effectively than rounded, pebble-like
material. A commercial limestone grit contains about 95% of car-
bonate of lime. As the grit is disintegrated in the gizzard this lime
becomes available for building bone in growing stock and for making
egg shell in the case of laying hens.
For adult fowls grit as coarse as whole corn is preferable. For
younger birds finer grades known as intermediate and chick grit are
Oystershell. — Oystershell is fed to poultry as a direct source of
supply of carbonate of lime for the making of egg shell whenever pro-
duction increases to a point where the need for such lime exceeds the
amount supplied in the diet. The value of an oystershell product will
depend on its lime content. Crushed oystershell and grit should be
clean and free from dust and dirt; they should be available to the
flock at all times in self-feeding hoppers.
Charcoal. — Charcoal in a clean, granulated condition is fed to
poultry to prevent indigestion and to purify the blood. It is usually
added to the dry mash at the rate of one pound of charcoal to 40
pounds of mash. It may also be fed in self-feeding hoppers, although
this is not a common practice.
Salt. — Salt added to the mash in small quantities is believed to
make it more palatable and to have a beneficial effect in promoting
the health of poultry just as it has with mammals. One pound of salt
10 UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA EXPERIMENT STATION
to 200 pounds of mash is about the right proportion. In large
amounts however, it is poisonous.
Method of Feeding. — The grain mixture should be fed in a deep
straw litter at the rate of appromixately 4 pounds in the morning, and
6 pounds at night, for each 100 full-grown fowls of the lighter breeds,
such as Leghorns. Fowls of the heavier breeds, such as Plymouth
Rocks, may be fed somewhat more if they require it. Laying hens
should consume an equal amount, dry weight, of mash per day, in
addition to the grain. The total quantity of grain and mash con-
sumed per hen annually is about 72 pounds, or six pounds per month.
The dry mash should be kept in a hopper before the fowls at all
times. In the case of older hens of the heavier breeds, such as
Plymouth Rocks, Wyandottes, and Rhode Island Reds the hopper may
have to be kept closed till about noon each day as these birds have
a tendency to over-eat and to become too fat to lay. The accumulation
of an excess quantity of fat in the abdomen crowds the egg organs and
egg production is first retarded and later entirely checked. Fowls
will be kept in fine laying condition by feeding only as much mixed
grain in a deep litter in the morning as will stimulate vigorous scratch-
ing and not quite satisfy the appetites of the fowls, regulating the
consumption of dry mash to conform with the consumption of grain.
Fowls are confined a great deal in winter because of weather con-
ditions. During rainy weather and for as long after a rain as the
surface of the ground remains damp and sticky, they are more com-
fortable and will lay better if confined to the laying houses. A moist,
sticky soil adheres to the feet of the fowls. As they track this wet
soil into the nests and scratching pens, the litter and the nests quickly
become damp and dirty and the percentage of dirty eggs increases.
Dirty, damp pens must be restrawed. Dirty eggs must be washed.
The cost of restrawing pens and washing eggs from this unnecessary
cause can also be eliminated by confining fowls in wet weather. Wet,
muddy feet, wet plumage and damp, chilly houses will do as much,
if not more, to retard winter egg production and increase costs as
careful feeding and management will do to stimulate the yield and
lower operating expenses.
After scratching in the litter all morning, fowls that are confined
during unpleasant winter weather are likely to become less active
about midday and to perch on the roosts or huddle in corners. If a
light feeding of a crumbly moist mash, made from the regular dry
mash mixture, is fed at this time, it will tend to put new energy into
the birds and aid greatly in increasing the winter egg yield. Finely
Circular 242] poultry feeding 11
cut roots or tender greens can be included in such a moist mash with
great benefit. At other times of the year when weather conditions
are more favorable and fowls can spend most of the day out of doors,
a dry mash is all that is needed.
No change in the laying mash formula is recommended during the
molting period. It has been found that feeds which are beneficial
for molting are equally valuable for stimulating egg production and
they have, therefore, been included in proper amounts in the regular
Care the First Day or Tivo. — The brooder should be prepared for
baby chicks by covering the floor under and around the hover with
sifted light or dark sand and regulating the heat to a temperature
between 90° and 95° F., with the thermometer near the outer edge of
the hover and the center of the thermometer bulb two inches above
the floor. Boards or one inch mesh wire netting, one foot wide, should
be used to form a small enclosure around the hover for the first three
or four days to prevent the chicks from straying away until they
become familiar with their new quarters. In large brooder pens, the
enclosure should be enlarged somewhat each day in order to gradually
accustom the chicks to the larger area. In small pens this is not
About 24 hours after the hatch is completed the chicks are taken
from the incubator, placed under the hover in the brooder, and given
fresh water to drink. It is better to move them into the brooder in
the morning so that they can be closely watched for the first few
hours. No solid food should be given until the chicks are from 60
to 72 hours old. When a chick leaves the shell a good deal of the
yolk is still undigested and should be absorbed before the chick's
digestive organs are ready to handle much other food.
Feeding Milk. — If it can be obtained at a reasonable cost, butter-
milk or sour skim milk may be given to chicks from the time they are
removed to the brooder. Sour skim milk will be consumed more
evenly if it is vigorously agitated with a dasher before being fed,
to break the curd into fine particles. Milk may be fed in the morn-
ing and water given in the afternoon, or both may be fed during the
whole day. If mash is kept before young chicks, however, milk should
not be fed after 3 p.m. Chicks having access to both mash and milk
in the late afternoon are prone to over-eat of these foods before going
12 UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA EXPERIMENT STATION
to bed. Digestion is slower at night than during the day when the
chicks are vigorously exercising, and a mushy mixture of these foods
in the hot interior of the crop at this time may ferment before it can
be digested. The result is a condition of colic or sour crop which is
generally fatal to chicks under three weeks of age and weakening to
Young stock which are fed all the buttermilk or sour skim milk
they will drink need no other animal feed, such as meatscrap, fish-
scrap, or bonemeal in their diet. If only a small amount of milk can
be fed, however, animal feed should not be eliminated from the ration,
but merely reduced in quantity. One pound of commercial meatscrap
or fishscrap should be considered equal to about 15 pounds of fresh
If chicks are pli3 7 sicked from drinking milk too eagerly or develop
sour crop, the milk should be fed in the morning only. Some lots of
chicks may develop an abnormal appetite for milk; this should be
curbed by feeding more sparingly.
Feeding the Grain. — When from 60 to 72 hours old, chicks are fed
a chick grain mixture on a board or in a shallow chick hopper placed
just outside of the hover. The following mixture is recommended :
33Va% cracked wheat (by weight) ;
S3y 3 % fine cracked corn;
33%% steel-cut oats.
The grain mixture should be left before the chicks till they learn
to eat readily. This will take one or two days as they will pick con-
siderably at first but swallow very little. On the second day the grain
hoppers can usually be removed at noon and a little grain then
sprinkled over the sand just outside the hover. If this grain is eaten
readily, more should be given in the same way at 4 p.m. and again
the next morning, giving the chicks at each feeding only what they
will clean up in about an hour. The chicks should be sufficiently
strong and active by this time so that they can be given further feed-
ings of grain in a scratching litter consisting of a light covering of
fine cut alfalfa hay spread over the scratching floor. The grain should
be scattered in this litter three times a day till the feeding of mash
is begun, when the noon feeding of grain should be omitted.
The depth of the scratching litter should be increased as the
chicks grow older, but care should be taken not to get it too deep to
allow them to dig to the bottom easily, or so shallow that they do not
have to work to get the grain.
Circular 242] POULTRY FEEDING 13
As the birds increase in size, usually at about four or five weeks
of age, a mixture of % cut alfalfa hay and y 2 cut straw may be used in
place of straight alfalfa litter and a few weeks later whole straw (if
not too coarse) can be used. Planer shavings are also used as a
litter material, but are likely to pack too much and not conceal the
grain. They also draw dampness in wet weather.
The scratching litter, if used wisely, is an effective means of sup-
plying brooder chicks with healthful exercise. Plenty of exercise
aids in developing sturdy chicks that make rapid growth and it is
one of the most valuable preventives of disease.
At feeding time, before any grain is scattered over the floor, the
litter should be carefully examined to see if the chicks have cleaned
up all the grain from the previous feeding. If grain is found in the
litter, no more should be fed till that already in the litter has been
consumed and the amount given at a feeding should be reduced. If
all the grain has been scratched out of the litter, and the chicks act
exceptionally hungry at meal time, the amount of grain should be
increased. Approximately one-half pint of grain should be given at
a feeding to each 100 chicks under one week old and the amount
increased from week to week as the birds grow in size.
The chicks should be fed only as much grain as they will eat to
keep them growing thriftily without entirely satisfying their appetites.
They should come to each meal reasonably hungry.
Changing from Chick to Growing Grains. — If steel-cut oats are
too costly to be used, cracked hulled barley, cracked milo, cracked
Egyptian corn, etc., can be substituted. However, no better grain
can be used as a starting feed for the first few weeks of a chick's life
than hulled oats. After that time other grains may be used to replace
the oats. Steel-cut oats are preferable to rolled oatmeal or so-called
breakfast rolled oats as the latter are likely to become sticky when
moistened by the juices in the crop and * ' ball up ' ' into a cohesive mass
difficult to digest, especially when fed alone.
At about six weeks of age, or as soon as the chicks are large enough
to eat them, cracked grains should be replaced by whole grains, in the
case of small grains like wheat, milo, oats, barley, etc. Fine cracked
corn should not be replaced by the coarse cracked grade, however,
until two or more weeks later.
One should not be too hasty in changing from fine to coarser
cracked and whole grains. This is particularly true with yellow corn
because the coarse cracked grade may vary considerably in coarseness
with different lots. The larger particles of a very coarse lot might
prove injurious. A little care in this matter is well worth while.
14 UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA EXPERIMENT STATION
Whole barley may be added to the grain ration of chicks from
10 to 12 weeks of age. It should be used moderately at first and grad-
ually increased, but the total amount used should not exceed 50%
of the grain ration.
Feeding the Mash. — When chicks are seven days old, the feeding
of a dry mash is usually begun. The following formula and method
of feeding it are recommended :
25% bran #
25% shorts ' '
20% yellow corn meal I
10% soybean meal
5% very finely ground bone meal
2-|% granulated chick charcoal.
Note. — All proportions are by weight. The charcoal is fed in addi-
tion to the 100% mixture of feedstuffs.
At 7 days old begin feeding dry mash from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
At 14 days old begin feeding dry mash from 10 a.m. to 12 m.
At 28 days old begin feeding dry mash from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
At 42 days old begin feeding dry mash from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For pullets and cockerels to be raised for laying and breeding, a
well formulated laying mash, such as the one given on page 2, should
replace the chick or growing mash at three months of age. The chick
mash is a high-protein feed designed to meet the needs of strong, rapid
growth. After three months of age, however, a mash of lower protein
content, such as a laying mash, is more suited to the development of
vigorous, good-sized pullets. The hoppers of laying mash should be
closed two hours before the night feeding of grain and opened at the
morning feeding of grain.
If pullets begin to ''make comb" rapidly at 4% months of age,
and show other signs of coming into laying too early, the laying mash
should be stopped and a mixture of 95% bran, 5% bonemeal and
2%% charcoal, by weight, substituted for it. This mash may be kept
before the fowls at all times. After 5% months of age, the dry bran
and bone meal can be discontinued and the feeding of the laying
Feeding for Well-balanced Growth. — A pullet should not be
"forced" for extra early laying, but must be given time to develop
her body (the egg machine). High-protein growing rations are
needed during the first months of a chicken's life when growth is most
rapid, but if fed too long, they will, by stimulating the bird into
abnormally early laying, stunt her in size, in vitality, and in the
Circular 242] POULTRY FEEDING 15
quality as well as quantity of her production. Laying fowls should
be brought normally to sexual maturity by the skillful use of mashes
of moderate protein content after the birds are three months old.
Such feeding enables them to attain a sufficient maturity of growth
and strength before they are required to withstand the severe strain
of high production and will always prove the more profitable method
of feeding. Excessive quantities of under-sized eggs, bloody shelled
eggs and eggs containing blood spots, as well as heavy losses from
eversion of the oviduct, are some of the penalties paid by poultrymen
for "forcing" their stock for early laying.
The growing or laying ration, discussed in preceding pages, should
be fed until such time as the birds are to be fattened for market.
They should then be placed in pens with only medium sized yards
and a crumbly, moist mash, like the following one, substituted for the
dry mash previously fed :
20% wheat bran
20% wheat shorts ■ ' ' :
25% barley meal
25% cornmeal or ground milo
10% meatscrap or fishscrap
2£% finely granulated charcoal.
Note. — A mixture of from % to % millrun and % to % flour mid-
dlings, depending on whether the millrun is largely bran or
not, can be used in place of the bran and shorts. All propor-
tions are by weight.
The mash should be moistened with buttermilk or sour skim milk,
if possible. If the fowls can also be given all the milk they will drink,
the meatscrap may be omitted from the mixture. If milk as a drink
can be given only a part of the time, the meatscrap should not be
omitted. ' !
One feeding of moistened mash should be given at noon during the
first week of fattening and the scratch grain previously used should
be fed morning and night in a straw litter. Only as much mash
should be given at each feeding as the chickens will clean up in half
an hour. In the second and third weeks the mash is fed at noon and
at night, and grain fed in the morning. Beginning with the fourth
week, the moist mash is fed three times a day until the fowls are ready
for market. As much green stuff as the birds will eat should be given
daily at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. and a hopper of grit kept before them at
16 UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA EXPERIMENT STATION
The condition of the stock should be watched carefully during the
fattening period which should not extend beyond five weeks. Some
birds, being better feeders than others, will gain more rapidly and
can be marketed sooner. Feeding too long, on the other hand, will
throw the fowls off their feed and cause them to lose weight. Broilers
weighing from 1 to iy 2 pounds should be ready for killing at from 9
to 12 weeks of age when pen-fattened in this way.
Method of Feeding. — Crate fattening is used when it is desired
to produce very choice milk-fed fowls that are as tender, juicy and
toothsome as possible. Birds under 9 weeks of age will make better
gains if pen-fattened. Older birds can generally be crate-fattened
to best advantage, although birds of any age can be pen-fattened also.
When shipped alive, crate-fattened stock usually suffers a higher per-
centage of shrinkage than stock fattened on hard grain and less
sloppy mash feeds. For this reason it is inadvisable to crate-fatten
poultry on the farm unless it is killed and dressed there.
Crates Used. — In crate fattening the birds are shut up in crates,
each compartment of which is about three feet long, 2 feet wide and
18 inches high. The crates may be covered on all sides with lath,
or the lath may be used only in front with the other sides covered with
1-inch netting. The strips covering the front should be run ver-
tically so that the fowls can poke their heads through and eat out of
the feed trough fastened to the front of each crate. These strips are
spaced from iy 2 inches to 1% inches apart for half -grown fowls, such
as broilers and fryers, and 2 inches apart for mature fowls. Small
market stock of the lighter breeds, such as broilers and small frys,
can often squeeze through strips 2 inches apart. Slats may be used
for the bottom, but square, coarse, heavy grade mesh wire cloth is
much more sanitary and easier to keep clean. The crates are usually
placed two and three deep in the fattening house and a pan 1 inch
deep, of the same size as the bottom of each compartment, is placed
directly underneath the bottom of such compartment to catch the
droppings falling through. These pans can be pulled out and cleaned
every day and the coops thus kept clean and sanitary. The birds
need not be disturbed from the time they are put in until they are fat
enough for market, the cleaning and feeding all being done from the
Circular 242] POULTRY feeding 17
The feed troughs can be made of wood or from ordinary 5-inch,
roll-rim, galvanized iron roof gutter, cut to proper lengths and with
ends soldered on. The local tinsmith will make such troughs at small
The fowls are put into the crates and feed withheld for 24 hours
before starting the fattening process so that they will be very hungry
and take kindly to the new diet. They are then fed a special crate-
fattening ration three times a day.
The following formula represents a good example of a crate-
fattening ration :
2 lbs. barley meal
1 lb. cornmeal
1 lb. shorts
8 to 10 lbs. buttermilk
Sufficient milk is used to make a mixture just thin enough to run
off of a spoon. A mixture of the consistency of a thick pancake
batter is right. After being mixed, it is often allowed to stand from
6 to 12 hours before being fed for the purpose of increasing its
The fowls are given at each feeding only what they will clean up
in about 20 minutes. They receive no water to drink as the milk
supplies sufficient liquid. Charcoal and grit may be put before the
birds two or three times a week with benefit.
Crate fattening is such a forcing process that it can not be carried
on for more than 21 days without danger of the stock going off feed
and rapidly losing vitality. One and one-half pound broilers can be
nicely finished off in this way in from 12 to 14 days. For roasting
carcasses, fowls that are not quite mature make most rapid gains when
crate fattened. Three-fourths mature fowls can be fattened for a
longer time than younger stock. Especially crate-fattened, milk-fed
stock is always in demand at fancy prices because of the plump, juicy
and tender carcass produced by the buttermilk mash under this system
of close confinement.
FEEDING POULTRY ON THE FARM
Table fowls and eggs can undoubtedly be produced at least cost
on the farm where the feed is grown to a large extent. Poultry will
pick up from the stubble fields and from around the barns a great
deal of feed that would otherwise be wasted and will turn this feed
into eggs and meat. Thy will also obtain valuable elements of their
diet in such articles as tender greens, seeds, worms and slugs. Poultry
18 UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA EXPERIMENT STATION
on the farm, therefore, should be given free range in order that they
may pick up as much as possible of their feed. The farmer will then
have to supply from the bin only the feed which the fowls cannot
provide for themselves.
A farmer growing barley, milo and wheat and keeping a number
of cows, can formulate from the food supply produced on the farm,
excellent laying and breeding, growing, or fattening rations such as
are described in the previous pages. Referring, for example, to the
laying and breeding ration on page 2, the bran and shorts may be
replaced by ground whole wheat, and the high-protein animal and
vegetable feeds, such as soy beans, linseed, cottonseed and coconut
meals, meatscrap and fishscrap, may be replaced by buttermilk or
sour skim milk. In other words, a well balanced diet for birds of
any age may consist of a grain mixture of two or three cracked or
whole grains according to the age of the birds, a mash mixture con-
sisting of two or three finely ground grains, including some wheat,
and the greens, insects, worms and seeds which the birds will pick
up on range. Following are two suggested grain mixtures for fowls
over three months old and a suggested mash mixture for stock of
any age :
Grain Mixture No. 1 Grain Mixture No. 2
50% cracked yellow corn 50% field-run barley
50% field-run barley 25% milo
25% cracked yellow corn
50% finely ground whole wheat
25% finely ground whole milo or yellow corn
25% finely ground whole barley or oats
Buttermilk or sour skim milk kept before the fowls in drink-
ing vessels and used to mix moist mashes.*
A well designed and constructed henhouse should be provided in
which fowls are fed all the feed given to them and in which they are
made to roost at all times, f If fowls are taught to use the henhouse
from the beginning by shutting them up in it for three to seven days,
if necessary, when first put in, no trouble should be experienced with
their roosting in the trees and outbuildings. Providing good clean
* See discussion of milk for poultry feeding on pages 6 and 11.
f Plans for a farm poultry laying house will be furnished upon request to those
contemplating the construction of such a building, by the Division of Agricultural
Extension, College of Agriculture, Berkeley, Cal.
Circular 242] POULTRY FEEDING 19
nests in the henhouse and keeping the fowls off the range in the early
morning until they get thoroughly used to laying in these nests, will
result in practically all eggs being laid in the henhouse and in very
few stolen nests. A dirty henhouse, full of mites and other vermin,
will drive hens to the trees to roost and to lay in the fence corners
and elsewhere. A hen is a creature of habit. Give her a comfortable
henhouse and accustom her to use it and she will do so without further
attention. Such a henhouse means more fresh-laid eggs to be collected
daily, since fewer nests are stolen, and fewer stolen chickens, because
the hens can be locked up at night.
Medium-sized yards should be erected in connection with the hen-
houses, however, in order to provide a means of confining one or more
small pens of the choicest breeding fowls sufficiently long during the
breeding season, to obtain hatching eggs for the spring hatches of
chicks. It may also be desirable to pen up the entire flock from time
to time to keep them out of certain fields or orchard plots during
periods of cultivation or harvest. The number and size of yards will
be governed by specific conditions on each farm.
In many sections of the state, poultry are being run in orchards.
TJie advantages urged in favor of this practice are: (1) that the
poultry manure is valuable as a fertilizer for the trees; (2) that
poultry are a welcome source of income during the growing, unpro-
ductive period of the 3 r oung orchard and the poor crop years of the
bearing orchard; (3) that the trees furnish much needed summer
shade for the fowls; (4) that both the trees and the fowls can use the
same land and two incomes can be secured per acre.
There are also a number of disadvantages in running fowls in
orchards. Whether the advantages will outweigh the disadvantages
in any specific case will depend upon the kind of orchard, the value
of the land, the soil conditions, and many other factors that cannot
be entered into in a brief discussion of this kind. It is simply desired
to point out that orchards offer possibilities for poultry raising and
that many growers have found it profitable to use their orchards in
POULTRY A MARKET FOR BY-PRODUCTS
The value of livestock as a medium for marketing much of the
vegetable products grown on the farm so as to secure the manurial
by-product, is becoming more and more appreciated. The general
rancher, growing alfalfa, grain, etc., who feeds a good share of these
products to livestock and then markets the stock, is able not only to
secure his feed at a lower cost than if purchased from outside sources,
20 UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA EXPERIMENT STATION
including- additional handling and transportation charges, but also
to return the manure to the land to maintain its fertility. Poultry
produce about 30 pounds of roost manure and perhaps 20 pounds of
day droppings per bird annually. Three hundred chickens will pro-
duce about 4i/2 tons of night droppings and 3 tons of day droppings
Nearly every farm in California keeps at least fifty fowls or more.
It is contended by many that such a small number of fowls can be
indifferently cared for and still be profitable, since they can pick
up most of their living about the barns and fields, and although given
practically no care, will lay fairly well because of the combined
advantages of small numbers and free-range conditions. These fowls
are kept on the farm primarily with the idea of supplying the family
larder and are not looked upon as a money-making part of the farm
work. They are generally infested with vermin, are rarely bred or
culled for egg production, and are often kept in dirty, close or
draughty and vermin-infested henhouses. Thus they have not even
half a chance to do well, with the result that the hens lay almost
entirely in the spring and not very well then, supplying the larder for
only a brief part of the year. The net profit from fowls handled in
such a manner as compared with that from an equal number of well
cared for fowls conclusively demonstrates the dollars-and-cents desir-
ability of giving the time and attention required to make a poultry
flock yield the returns which a well managed flock should produce.
Poultry which are as carefully and intelligently looked after as dairy
cattle, beef cattle or hogs, are fully as profitable, per dollar invested,
as any other kind of livestock on the farm, when the amount of waste
feed which they pick up on range is considered.
TABLE OF AVERAGE COMPOSITION AND DIGESTIBILITY OF POULTRY
FEEDS, IN PER CENT*
Since some of the fiber is digestible, the digestible fiber is in-
cluded in the figures given of digestible nutrients
Beet pulp, dried
Beet pulp, fresh
Germ oil meal
*Compiled largely from California Station Bulletin No. 164 and from Henry & Morrison's
"Feeds and Feeding."
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA EXPERIMENT STATION
TABLE OF AVERAGE COMPOSITION AND DIGESTIBILITY OF POULTRY
FEEDS, IN PER CENT*— (Continued)
Linseed meal, N.P
Linseed meal, O.P
Soy bean meal
Wheat middlings, flour.
Fresh Meat (Beef)....
Fresh green cut bone.
Milk albumen, granulat'd
Dried skim milk
♦Compiled largely from California Station Bulletin No.
164 and from Henry & Morrison's "Feeds
STATION PUBLICATIONS AVAILABLE FOR FREE DISTRIBUTION
Report of Progress in Cereal Investiga- 308.
Vine Pruning in California, Part I.
Vine Pruning in California, Part II. 309.
Utilization of the Nitrogen and Organic
Matter in Septic and Imhoff Tank 310.
Sludges. _ 312.
Irrigation and Soil Conditions in the 313.
Sierra Nevada Foothills, California. 316.
Melaxuma of the Walnut, "Juglans regia." 317.
Citrus Diseases of Florida and Cuba 318.
Compared with Those of California. 320.
Size Grades for Ripe Olives. 321.
A Spotting of Citrus Fruits Due to the 323.
Action of Oil Liberated from the Rind.
Experiments with Stocks for Citrus. 324.
Growing and Grafting Olive Seedlings.
A Comparison of Annual Cropping, Bi- 325.
ennial Cropping, and Green Manures
on the Yield of Wheat.
Feeding Dairy Calves in California. 328.
Preliminary Report on Kearney Vineyard 329.
Experimental Drain. 330.
The Cultivation of Belladonna in Cali- 331.
The Pomegranate. 333.
Irrigation of Rice in California. 334.
Irrigation of Alfalfa in the Sacramento
Trials with California Silage Crops for
Dairy Cows. 336.
The Olive Insects of California.
The Milk Goat in California. 337.
Commercial Fertilizers. 338.
Vinegar from Waste Fruits.
Bean Culture in California. 339.
The Almond in California.
Seedless Raisin Grapes. 340.
The Use of Lumber on California Farms. 341.
Commercial Fertilizers. 342.
A Study on the Effects of Freezes on
Citrus in California.
I. Fumigation with Liquid Hydrocyanic
Acid. II. Physical and Chemical Pro-
perties of Liquid Hydrocyanic Acid.
I. The Carob in California. II. Nutritive
Value of the Carob Bean.
Pruning Young Deciduous Fruit Trees.
The Kaki or Oriental Persimmon.
Selections of Stocks in Citrus Propagation.
The Effects of Alkali on Citrus Trees.
Control of the Coyote in California.
Commercial Production of Grape Syrup.
Heavy vs. Light Grain Feeding for Dairy
Storage of Perishable Fruit at Freezing
Rice Irrigation Measurements and Ex-
periments in Sacramento Valley, 1914-
Prune Growing in California.
A White Fir Volume Table.
Dehydration of Fruits.
Walnut Culture in California.
Some Factors Affecting the Quality of
Preliminary Volume Tables for Second-
Cocoanut Meal as a Feed for Dairy Cows
and Other Livestock.
The Preparation of Nicotine Dust as an
Some Factors of Dehydrater Efficiency.
Selection and Treatment of Waters for
The Relative Cost of Making Logs from
Small and Large Timber.
Control of the Pocket Gopher in California.
Studies on Irrigation of Citrus Groves.
Hog Feeding Experiments.
70. Observations on the Status of Corn 160.
Growing in California. 161.
82. The Common Ground Squirrels of Cali- 164.
110. Green Manuring in California. 166.
111. The Use of Lime and Gypsum on Cali- 167.
fornia Soils. 169.
113. Correspondence Courses in Agriculture. 170.
115. Grafting Vinif era Vineyards.
126. Spraying for the Grape Leaf Hopper. 172.
127. House Fumigation. 173.
128. Insecticide Formulas. 174.
129. The Control of Citrus Insects. 175.
130. Cabbage Growing in California.
138. The Silo in California Agriculture. 178.
144. Oidium or Powdery Mildew of the Vine. 179.
151. Feeding and Management of Hogs. 181.
152. Some Observations on the Bulk Handling 182.
of Grain in California.
153. Announcement of the California State 183.
Dairy Cow Competition, 1916-18. 184.
154. Irrigation Practice in Growing Small 188.
Fruits in California. 189.
155. Bovine Tuberculosis. 190.
157. Control of the Pear Scab. 193.
158. Home and Farm Canning. 198.
159. Agriculture in the Imperial Valley. 201.
Lettuce Growing in California.
Potatoes in California.
Small Fruit Culture in California.
Fundamentals of Sugar Beet Culture
under California Conditions.
The County Farm Bureau.
Feeding Stuffs of Minor Importance.
The 1918 Grain Crop.
Fertilizing California Soils for the 1918
The Construction of the Wood-Hoop Silo.
Farm Drainage Methods.
Progress Report on the Marketing and
Distribution of Milk.
The Packing of Apples in California.
Factors of Importance in Producing Milk
of Low Bacterial Count.
Control of the California Ground Squirrel.
Extending the Area of Irrigated Wheat in
California for 1918.
Infectious Abortion in Cows.
A Flock of Sheep on the Farm.
Winter Forage Crops.
Agriculture Clubs in California.
A Study of Farm Labor in California.
Syrup from Sweet Sorghum.
Helpful Hints to Hog Raisers.
County Organizations for Rural Fire Con-
Peat as a Manure Substitute.
208. Summary of the Annual Reports of the
Farm Advisors of California.
209. The Function of the Farm Bureau.
210. Suggestions to the Settler in California.
212. Salvaging Rain-Damaged Prunes.
214. Seed Treatment for the Prevention of
Feeding Dairy Cows in California.
Methods for Marketing Vegetables in
Advanced Registry Testing of Dairy Cows.
219. The Present Status of Alkali.
220. Unfermented Fruit Juices.
221. How California is Helping People Own
Farms and Rural Homes.
223. The Pear Thrips.
224. Control of the Brown Apricot Scale and
the Italian Pear Scale on Deciduous
225. Propagation of Vines.
227. Plant Diseases and Pest Control.
228. Vineyard Irrigation in Arid Climates.
229. Cordon Pruning.
Testing Milk, Cream, and Skim Milk for
The Home Vineyard.
Harvesting and Handling California
Cherries for Eastern Shipment.
Winter Injury to Young Walnut Trees
Soil Analysis and Soil and Plant Inter-
The Common Hawks and Owls of Cali-
fornia from the Standpoint of the
Directions for the Tanning and Dressing
The Apricot in California.
Harvesting and Handling Apricots and
Plums for Eastern Shipment.
Harvesting and Handling Pears for East-
Harvesting and Handling Peaches for
Marmalade Juice and Jelly Juice from
244. Central Wire Bracing for Fruit Trees.
245. Vine Pruning Systems.